Being told that Portland was a mini version of Seattle set the hopes high, so after walking for 30 minutes with 40 kilos of backpack between us and staring up a road that looked like it was lacking some love, we felt disheartened. Fortunately moments later we turn a corner (literally not metaphorically) and the street comes to life. Mississippi avenue is full of quirky bistros, funky independent boutiques and pods of food carts. We get neck cramp from trying to look in every direction at the same time and to be honest the pain is so worth it.
We dump the bags and head for some food. The lovely guy were staying with tells us that brunch is the meal of the day here and we can tell as there are queues at just about every doorway!
'Bear and Wolves' food truck has a permanent spot here on the avenue, serving Greek style pittas filled with fresh salads and falafels. We share as we think we can eat at more places this way but our chosen wrap turns out to be American sized. Filled to the brim with dark, pan fried falafel discs, leafy greens, roasted red peppers, sweet caramelised onions and my fave, meaty chunks of tangy gorgonzola. This falafel is ground nice and course so it had a great texture making you feel like there is more than meets the eye with that humble chickpea. A little dish on the side treats us to some juicy pickles, salty kalamata olives and jalapeño peppers, I ate the peppers..I regret that I ate the peppers.
Moving down the road for lunch dessert, we stroll past a shop that Steve has been dribbling about. 'Blue star Donuts' uses ingredients all locally sourced and bases its recipe on a brioche dough....sold!
My lemon poppyseed buttermilk doughnut makes me want to dance, it crunches as I take a bite and fills my mouth with a lemony syrup that whisks my memory off to a local seaside town in the UK. The lemon glaze is spotted with juicy zest and the doughnut itself is crimped like a waffle so there are endless corners to chomp on. The blueberry bourbon basil is soft and doughy with a bright purple glaze filled with tiny blueberry seeds, the tang of bourbon hits the back of your throat and lingers like a warm hug.
We head off downtown into the worst smoke we have seen so far and it is nostril burning! We take shelter in a coffee shop that is a pretty popular choice, so much so that all the restaurants here serve it up and you can even buy cartons of their cold brew with milk in the local whole food store. Now I'm usually a filter coffee kinda guy but since the air has become that of an oven, I fancy a cold brew, served in a little paper milk carton or on tap! (Too cool for school people.) It's been brewing for 12 hours and the result is a smooth and complex coffee, finished with a dash of milk, perfection.
The estimation that it would take 20 minutes to get to our dinner choice was proved absolutely wrong by the time we were walking our 5th mile, we were eager to see whether the hype was worth it for the renowned 'pok pok' and so we soldiered on. Unfortunately when we got there a waiting list was present and so an hour was spent at a nearby bar, nursing a beer and Georgia's first alcohol in 3 months...big mistake. Accompanying a rather wobbly, but chatty Georgia back to the restaurant, we were seated and left to make our menu decisions.
This place is famous for its fish sauce wings so we gotta have em. Sticky and sweet, with a dark golden outer shell, the marinated chicken stays juicy and tender, every bite of these was like unwrapping a wanted birthday present! Along with some fluffy coconut rice we also ordered the 'Kung Hang Leh', pull apart chunks of pork belly and shoulder sitting in a light green chilli and tomato stew, just enough heat to cut through the richness of the meat and finished of with shavings of fresh ginger, this was a very well balanced dish, unlike Georgia, after her one drink. Although the food was lovely, we couldn't help but notice that the service was not at the same standard, as some of the other places we have been to. We felt that the staff were really being pushed to their limits with trying to serve so many customers at one time and that was a shame as a friendly server really adds to the dining experience. Maybe try this place out when they're not so busy.
Can't wait for another 16 hour bus journey woohoo, San Francisco here we come.
G & S xxx